Last month, I sent my sister a wedding dress to consider wearing on her wedding day.
“It is fine. Everyone I tried it on for said so, but I want something poufy,” she said.
“Poufy?” I asked.
“Yes, you know a ball gown, like Cinderella. This one is too figure-hugging.”
“You have a great figure, you will pull it off,” I said.
“Remember Nkechi’s wedding? You know how skinny and tall she is, right? Well against all reason, she wore a body-hugging dress. Nice dress, but she looked like a rake. I am taller than she is and I am not wearing a body-hugging dress!” she wailed.
“Almost all brides do the poufy thing. Don’t you want to be unique? This dress has black and silver beading. Details you can’t find on any other dress. It was inspired by Renee Zellweger at the 2005 Oscars or SAG or something!” I exclaimed.
“Yes. Yes. I know, but weddings are supposed to be like fairy tales. And. I. Want. A. Ballgown,” she said with a tone of finality very common with women in my family.
I knew my pocketbook would take a hit. I wondered why I offered to buy her a dress in lieu of a gift. I also wondered why most women are into the whole Cinderella thing. The gown… the tiara… the perfect wedding day. That’s why I am a fan of Vegas, baby.
Don’t get me wrong, I am in love the whole idea of meeting the perfect guy-the perfect prince and having the perfect wedding, but, isn’t that a skewed version of reality? Life is not perfect. Men are not perfect and neither are women. Cinderella was a blonde skinny girl-child with an hour-glass figure, an angelic persona, lovely singing voice, perfect skin and feet, and a dysfunctional family. Besides her dysfunctional family, I don’t see what most of us would have in common with her. I mean, what guy walks around with a glass slipper these days?
Life is not a fairytale. Life is hard. Love is hard. Why do we try to make fairytales out of really mundane stuff? Why do we not see that fairytale endings are not what we think they are? Why can’t we see that fairytale endings are not meant for princes and princesses but are in everyday miracles of life? Why can’t we see that fairytales in real life is about celebrating the wonders you have shared as a couple and the challenges both have weathered? Why are we chasing the wind? And why is a dress emergency making me rant about relationships? Again?
Even men are guilty of seeking fairytales. Those in the diaspora, particularly the U. S., want a version of the American dream: a house with a two car garage, white picket fence (or a pit-bull guard dog), a beautiful (read fine-print) wife, and 2.5 children, and also, enough funds to be able to bring the mother-in-law for omugwo, visit naija every Christmas and still have enough money to keep relatives on both sides happy, have enough connections to help your cousin/brother/nephew process his papers, all the while being able to keep your sanity in the midst of it all. Like American Idol Fantasia Barino said, ‘Life is not a fairytale.’
My sister’s fairytale idea of a wedding made me wish for something I had not wished for, in a long time. I am ashamed to say I still want the perfect life even though the chances of my marrying a tall, dark, studly, handsome, studly (did I say studly?), wealthy (not rich- wealthy- there is a difference between rich and wealthy), kind, generous, funny, romantic, understanding, studly (I said studly before, right?) – are slightly better than my chances of winning the lottery or getting struck by lightening.
Hey, a girl can still dream. Yet in reality, the cynic in me will ‘tsk, tsk’ at anyone who buys into fairytales – I do enjoy disregarding their ideas with the superiority of a realist but deep down, I look forward to reading my daughter Cinderella’s Story. But I will polish up the story by including a more realistic fine print…I mean ending.
The story I have just read to you is a just that- a story not to be mistaken for actual life experiences. If you meet a man, please note that he may not have the perfect hair, teeth or body. He may not slip on a glass slipper on your feet but will get you a pretty decent engagement ring he will pay off when your first born gets into first grade. Neither may he be a prince or be in anyway related to royalty. In fact the first few years of your life together may be in a two-bedroom apartment and not a castle with armed guards. There may be no nannies to get your infant at two in the morning, so you will be sleep deprived once you start reproducing. You may or may not have a fairy god mother but the mother-in-law from hell, figuratively speaking. And no, your pumpkin colored hooptie vehicle will not turn into an escalade but with enough hard work, you may be able to buy a mini-van to tote around your expanding family. You will not spend the rest your days dancing to the sound of a wonderful symphony on the balcony of the castle that does not exist, as the sun goes down, and there will be no ‘and they lived happily ever after’ scrolling across the screen. But you will get to dance sometimes, and laugh, and cry. Best of all, you would have experienced real love. The End.
A lesson for the daughter I may or may not have someday – shoot for the stars when looking for a mate and a wedding dress, but don’t forget to look for diamonds in the rough. That’s the ultimate fairytale.